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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   September 2008

10 Tips for Retaining Top Talent

Keep the best in the business working for your company

As the effects of the non-prime crisis continue to thin the ranks of mortgage professionals, retaining top brokers will become increasingly difficult. Good organizations work hard at keeping their best people. But in tough times, those people are the ones who are recruited to another company quickly.

How can you retain your best talent during these turbulent times? Here are 10 factors that might help:

1. Retention strategies: Retention does not just happen. Rather, success results when organizations plan and implement their strategy for retention at all levels. In fact, the “2007-2008 Global Workforce Study” conducted by Towers Perrin found that top retention drivers differ significantly from top attraction drivers. For example, competitive base pay is key in attracting talent, while a company’s reputation as a great place to work is important in retaining it.

2. Emotional intelligence: Hire the candidates who fit not only the job specifications but also the culture of the organization. Competitive edge stems from the skills of your talent, but retention stems from the correct cultural fit. When people are aligned with the organization’s mission and values, they are more likely to stay.

3. Opportunities for advancement: Opportunities for individual growth and career development are powerful incentives for individuals to stay onboard. When people know that they can grow and advance, they are more likely to want to achieve where they have already invested time and performance. Make sure you remind top employees about the potential opportunities that exist for them given continued performance and growth.

4. Recognition and reward systems: Compensation is clearly not the top reason organizations retain talent, but it is essential that you are competitive and fair when it comes to compensation and benefits. Internal equity with those who are doing similar work and performance is important. When people feel they are compensated appropriately compared to others, they will feel better about staying.

5. Communication: People love to be kept informed. Share the good news as well as the bad with your employees. Talk to them and field questions so they really feel they have a voice and that you care. Feedback is essential.

6. Retention surveys: Measure employees’ feelings by conducting retention surveys on a regular basis. Issues will surface and enable you to intervene and save talent that may otherwise be lost.

7. Company mission and values: Clarification of what you are as a company and where you are headed helps to retain the right talent. Make sure your employees know and buy into your mission and values and are portraying your intended image.

8. Leadership: Stability at the top filters down to feelings of security, trust and mutual respect for the entire organization. Leaders can and should attract and keep the best-possible talent, and they should understand their role in that process.

9. Accountability for turnover: An individual’s direct manager has the most impact on employee turnover. It is essential to hire, train and develop managers who are effective at retaining top talent. Rewarding managers with low turnover rates and letting those managers mentor others will improve retention.

10. Social responsibility: A particularly effective way to cement an employee’s commitment to the organization is to provide opportunities to serve as an external ambassador of the corporation, through such activities as serving on the board of a community organization or being appointed to a professional task force. When an employee is seen as a visible representative of the organization and finds fulfillment in serving in an external leadership role, that person is less likely to jump ship.

Retention within your organization can be benchmarked by industry standards, but the best companies set their own standards and strive to improve their employee retention. As the mortgage industry continues to navigate through this difficult period, it is important to focus on your best talent and implement your own retention strategy.


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